World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Internet activism

Internet activism (also known as online activism, digital campaigning, digital activism, online organizing, electronic advocacy, cyberactivism, e-campaigning, and e-activism) is the use of electronic communication technologies such as MoveOn, and conservative activists as well."[44]

Another concern, according to University of California professor Barbara Epstein, is that the Internet "allows people who agree with each other to talk to each other and gives them the impression of being part of a much larger network than is necessarily the case." She warns that the impersonal nature of communication by computer may actually undermine the human contact that always has been crucial to social movements.[45]

Moving to offline action

Famed activist Ralph Nader has stated that "the Internet doesn't do a very good job of motivating action", citing that the United States Congress, corporations and the Pentagon do not necessarily "fear the civic use of the Internet."[46] Ethan Zuckerman talks about "slacktivism", claiming that the Internet has devalued certain currencies of activism.[47] Citizens may "like" an activist group on Facebook, visit a website, or comment on a blog, but fail to engage in political activism beyond the Internet, such as volunteering or canvassing. This critique has been criticized as Western-centric, however, because it discounts the impact this can have in authoritarian or repressive contexts.[48] Journalist Courtney C. Radsch argued that even this low level of engagement was an important form of activism for Arab youth because it is a form of free speech, and can spark mainstream media coverage.[49]


Another concern, expressed by author and law professor Cass Sunstein, is that online political discussions lead to "cyberbalkanization"—discussions that lead to fragmentation and polarization rather than consensus, because the same medium that lets people access a large number of news sources also enables them to pinpoint the ones they agree with and ignore the rest.

Scholars are divided as to whether the Internet will increase or decrease political participation, including online activism. Those who suggest political participation will increase believe the Internet can be used to recruit and communicate with more users, and offers lower-costs modes of participation for those who lack the time or motivation to engage otherwise. Those concerned that the Internet will decrease activism argue that the Internet occupies free time that can no longer be spent getting involved in activist groups, or that Internet activism will replace more substantial, effortful forms of in-person activism.


Another criticism is clicktivism. According to techopedia, clicktivism is a controversial form of digital activism. Proponents believe that applying advertising principles such as A/B testing increases the impact of a message by leveraging the Internet to further its reach. Opponents believe that clicktivism reduces activism to a mere mouse-click, yielding numbers with little or no real engagement or commitment to the cause.[50]

Micah M. White argues, “Political engagement becomes a matter of clicking a few links. In promoting the illusion that surfing the web can change the world, clicktivism is to activism as McDonalds is to a slow-cooked meal. It may look like food, but the life-giving nutrients are long gone.”[51] He argues that political engagement becomes a matter of clicking a few links and neglects the vital, immeasurable inner-events and personal epiphanies that great social ruptures are actually made of. It reduces activism to a mere mouse click.[52] Micah M. White goes on to argue that "...clicktivism reinforces the fear of standing out from the crowd and taking a strong position. It discourages calling for drastic action. And as such, clicktivism will never breed social revolution. To think that it will is a fallacy. One that is dawning on us".[51]

State repression

In Net Delusion, author Evgeny Morozov argues against cyberutopianism. He describes how the Internet is successfully used against activists and for the sake of state repression.[53]

See also


  1. ^ Obar, Jonathan; et al. (2012). "Advocacy 2.0: An Analysis of How Advocacy Groups in the United States Perceive and Use Social Media as Tools for Facilitating Civic Engagement and Collective Action". Journal of Information Policy. 
  2. ^ Obar, Jonathan. "Canadian Advocacy 2.0: A Study of Social Media Use by Social Movement Groups and Activists in Canada". Retrieved 27 April 2013. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Classifying Forms of Online Activism: The Case of Cyberprotests Against the World Bank" in Cyberactivism: Online Activism in Theory and PRACTICE, Eds. Ayers, Michael D., Mccaughey, Martha, pp. 72-73. Copyright 2003, Routledge, New York, NY
  5. ^ Watson, Nessim “Why We Argue about Virtual Community: A Case Study of the Fan Community” pp. 103-104. SAG Publications 1997
  6. ^ "Classifying Forms of Online Activism" in Cyberactivism: Online Activism in Theory and Practice, pp. 71-95. Copyright 2003, Routledge, New York, NY
  7. ^ "Michelle Obama raises pressure over kidnapped schoolgirls". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 May 2014. 
  8. ^ Ghobadi, S., Clegg, S. "‘these days will never be forgotten’: Critical Mass Approach to Online Activism". Information and Organization. Elsevier. 
  9. ^ Vitak, J., Zube, P., Smock, A., Carr, C. T., Ellison, N., & Lampe, C. (2011). It's Complicated: Facebook Users' Political Participation in the 2008 Election. Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 14(3), 107-114.
  10. ^ Gurak, L.J. (1997). Persuasion and Privacy in Cyberspace: The Online Protests over Lotus MarketPlace and the Clipper Chip. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  11. ^ Cooke, Kevin; Lehrer, Dan (July 12, 1993). "The Whole World Is Talking". The Nation. 
  12. ^ "The Whole World Is Talking". July 12, 1993. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  13. ^ "(PEN-L:700) USE the INTERNET to CHANGE THE WORLD: An Online Course for Activists". 1995-10-08. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  14. ^ Bongo Doit Partir (Bongo Must Go)
  15. ^ "Bongo Doit Partir | Pour la Construction d'un Gabon nouveau". Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  16. ^ "Bongo Doit Partir | Pour la Construction d'un Gabon nouveau". Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  17. ^ "Gabon: Prisoners of Conscience". 2003-08-12. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  18. ^ "Gabon: Further information on Prisoners of conscience". 2003-10-15. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  19. ^ "A world of many worlds". Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  20. ^ " – Brief history of PGA". Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  21. ^ "Independent Media Center – – ((( i )))". Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  22. ^ "Media Activism, Indymedia History, Mar. 11, 2005". 2005-03-11. Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  23. ^ " A New Communications Common in Cyberactivism: Online Activism in Theory and Practice pp. 59. Eds. Ayers, Michael D., Mccaughey, Martha. Copyright 2003, Routledge, New York, NY
  24. ^ Freedom to Freelance – the online revolution and the fight against IR35 (Philip Ross, Lulu June 2012), ISBN 978-1-4717-3575-2
  25. ^ "Citizen 2.0: How the Internet Shapes Citizen Participation". Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-02-04. 
  26. ^ "Website Reels In Political Newbies" Hanstad, Chelsie Salisbury, Bill Pioneer Press, St. Paul, MO accessed February 12, 2008
  27. ^ Hirzalla, F., van Zoonen, L., & de Ridder, J. (2011). Internet Use and Political Participation: Reflections on the Mobilization/Normalization Controversy. Information Society, 27(1), 1-15.
  28. ^ Kleinfield, N. R.; Buckley, Cara (September 30, 2011). "Wall Street Occupiers, Protesting Till Whenever". The New York Times. 
  29. ^ The Role of the Internet in Democratic Transition: Case Study of the Arab Spring, Davit Chokoshvili, Master's Thesis, June 2011
  30. ^ Christopher Palmeri, Up Front: How To Make A Corporate Cause Click, BusinessWeek Online, January 12, 2004. retrieved October 31, 2007.
  31. ^ "Legalize LA subpage". Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  32. ^ Story, Louise (January 18, 2008). "Politics Wrapped in a Clothing Ad". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-06-26. 
  33. ^ YouTube: Save Our State vs. American Apparel "5 patriots from the organization Save Our State protest American Apparel and its "Legalize LA" campaign (amnesty for illegal aliens)."
  34. ^ "Boycott American". Boycott American Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  35. ^ Anderson, Walter T. "Astroturf – The Big Business of Fake Grassroots Politics." Jinn 5 January 1996 accessed Feb 12, 2008
  36. ^ "IIS7". Retrieved 2013-10-17. 
  37. ^ Patricia M. Thornton, "The New Cybersects: Resistance and Repression in the Reform era. “ In Elizabeth Perry and Mark Selden, eds., Chinese Society: Change, Conflict and Resistance (second edition) (London and New York: Routledge, 2003), pp. 149-50.
  38. ^ "Political Influentials in the 2004 Presidential campaign" (PDF). Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet, Graduate School of Political Management. February 5, 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2004-04-07. 
  39. ^ a b c d Shepherd, Laura (2010). Gender Matters in Global Politics. Routledge. 
  40. ^ Shepherd, Laua (2010). Gender Matters in Global Politics. Routledge. 
  41. ^ "IRMJ01mcmanus" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-10. 
  42. ^ Nielsen, Jakob (2006-11-20). "Digital Divide: The Three Stages (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)". Retrieved 2013-12-11. 
  43. ^ Nam, T. (2011). Whose e-democracy? The democratic divide in American electoral campaigns. Information Polity: The International Journal Of Government & Democracy In The Information Age, 16(2), 131-150.
  44. ^ Scott Duke Harris (February 3, 2003). "Scott Duke Harris: Anti-war Movement Marshals Forces Online". Archived from the original (PDF) on 2003-02-16. The Internet connects an ideologically broad anti-war constituency, from the leftists of A.N.S.W.E.R. to the pressed-for-time ``soccer moms who might prefer MoveOn, and conservative activists as well. And for its part, MoveOn is itself part of an anti-war coalition that includes the NAACP, the Sierra Club, the National Organization for Women and the National Council of Churches. 
  45. ^ Scott Duke Harris (February 3, 2003). "Scott Duke Harris: Anti-war Movement Marshals Forces Online". Archived from the original (PDF) on 2003-02-16. All the Internet traffic may represent an ``echo chamber of virtual activism rather than meaningful protest, warns Barbara Epstein, a University of California-Santa Cruz professor of the history of consciousness. The Internet, she says, ``allows people who agree with each other to talk to each other and gives them the impression of being part of a much larger network than is necessarily the case. The impersonal nature of communication by computer, Epstein suggests, may have a more insidious effect, undermining important human contact that always has been crucial to social movements. During the Vietnam War, ``a large sector of a generation got drawn in, in a very personal way. They went to a protest because their roommate was going. The movement became the center of social life. It became the most exciting place on campus. 
  46. ^ Lasar, Matthew (2009-05-12). """Ralph Nader: Internet not so hot at "motivating action. Ars Technica. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  47. ^ "Causebuilder Resources and Information". Archived from the original on 2012-11-24. 
  48. ^ "Cyberactivism and the Arab Revolt: Battles Waged Online and Lessons Learned (Part 1 of 9)". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  49. ^ Radsch, Courtney (May 2012). "Unveiling the Revolutionaries: Cyberactivism and Women's Role in the Arab Uprisings" (PDF). Rice University. 
  50. ^ Janssen, Cory. "What is Clicktivism? - Definition from". Techopedia. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  51. ^ a b White, Micah. "Clicktivism is Ruining Leftist Activism". Common Dreams. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  52. ^ "Humanities & Social Sciences' Placements". Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  53. ^ Morozov, E. (2011). The Net Delusion The Dark Side of Internet Freedom. New York: Public Affairs.

Further reading

  • Ed Schwartz, NetActivism: How Citizens Use the Internet, Cambridge, MA: O'Reilly Media, 1996. ISBN 1-56592-160-7
  • Josh Richman, "Point-and-Click Activism," Oakland Tribune (Oakland, CA), June 9, 2002.
  • Steve Davis, Larry Elin and Grant Reeher, Click on Democracy: The Internet's Power to Change Political Apathy into Civic Action (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2002). ISBN 0-8133-4005-5.
  • Eric J.S. Townsend, E-Activism Connects Protest Groups. Web Makes It Easy To Organize Rallies Quickly, But Sheer Volume Of E-Mail Can Hinder Cause, Hartford Courant, December 4, 2002.
  • Steven F. Hick and John G. McNutt, Advocacy, Activism, and the Internet: Community Organization and Social Policy, Lyceum Books, 2002. ISBN 0-925065-60-9.
  • B.L. Ochman, "Online Activists' Lessons For Online Business," WebProNews, August 5, 2003.
  • Garance Franke-Ruta, "Virtual Politics," The American Prospect, Volume 14, Issue 9, October 1, 2003.
  • Ghobadi, S., Clegg, S. 2014, ‘these days will never be forgotten’: Critical Mass Approach to Online Activism, Information and Organization, Vol 25 Issue 1, pp 2–71
  • Klaus Marre, "Grassroots Growing Fast in Cyberspace," The Hill, October 13, 2003.
  • Joss Hands, "@ is for Activism: Dissent Resistance and Rebellion in a Digital Culture", Pluto Press, 2011. ISBN 0-7453-2700-1
  • Amy Harmon, "Politics of the Web: Meet, Greet, Segregate, Meet Again," New York Times, January 25, 2004.
  • Ann M. Mack, "Campaign '04: How the Internet is Changing Politics," MediaWeek, January 26, 2004.
  • Daniel H. Steinberg, "O'Reilly's Digital Democracy Teach-In," O'Reilly Network, February 10, 2004.
  • Mark Surman & Katherine Reilly, "Appropriating the Internet for Global Activism," Yes Magazine, Spring 2004. Also This story on Alternet.
  • Troops Rally For Regime Change Battle, Dan Hazen and Tai Moses, AlterNet, March 5, 2004.
  • Carlos Watson, "The Rise of the Online Citizen,", March 17, 2004, suggests that blogs may be "Democrats' answer to talk radio," citing a study by George Washington University showing that "online political citizens" outnumber Republicans almost 2 to 1 (49% to 27%).
  • Matt Stoller, "When Mainstream Political Kibitzing Comes Online," The Blogging of the President 2004, April 4, 2004.
  • Joe Trippi, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything (Regan Books, 2004), ISBN 0-06-076155-5.
  • John Emerson, "An Introduction to Activism on the Internet," January 2005.
  • Michael Dartnell, Insurgency Online: Web Activism and Global Conflict University of Toronto Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0-8020-8747-8
  • Molly Beutz Land, Networked Activism, Harvard Human Rights Journal / Vol. 22, 2009, p. 205–244. (PDF, 225 kb)
  • Richard Kahn and Douglas Kellner, New Media and Internet Activism: From the ‘Battle of Seattle’ to Blogging, New Media Society / Vol 6; 2004, Pages 87–95. (PDF)
  • Xu Ling, Network actions - new media and political confrontation in the Internet age (Chinese Edition) (Huazhong Normal University Press (December 1, 2011)), ISBN 9787562252825.
  • "GCommerce" Online Activism Info & Documentary Film
  • "Internet Activism" Shared Internet Activism Resource for NGOs
  • NGO that assists human rights advocates in using technology
  • Meta-Activism Project (MAP)
On the other hand, Scott Duke Harris of the

The experience of the echo chamber is easier to create with a computer than with many of the forms of political interaction that preceded it," Sunstein told the New York Times. "The discussion will be about strategy, or horse-race issues or how bad the other candidates are, and it will seem like debate. It's not like this should be censored, but it can increase acrimony, increase extremism and make mutual understanding more difficult.

Real debate?

A study looked at the impact of Social Networking Sites (SNS) on various demographics and their political activity. Not surprisingly college students used SNS for political activity the most but this was followed by a more unlikely group, those that had not completed high school. In addition the probability for non-White citizens to consume political information was shown to be higher than that of Whites. These two outcomes go in the face of normal predictors of political activity. Despite these surprising findings older generations, men and whites showed the highest levels of political mobilization. Acts of political mobilization, such as fundraising, volunteering, protesting require the most continued interest, resources and knowledge (Nam, 2010).[43]

Critics argue that Internet activism faces the same challenges as other aspects of the digital divide, particularly the global digital divide. Some say it gives disproportionate representation to those with greater access or technological ability.[41][42] Groups that may be disadvantaged by the move to activist activity online are those that have limited access to technologies, or lack the technological literacy to engage meaningfully online; these include ethnic and racial minorities, those of lower socioeconomic status, those with lower levels of education, and the elderly.

Demographic issues


The Internet has also made it easier for small donors to play a meaningful role in financing political campaigns. Previously, small-donor fundraising was prohibitively expensive, as costs of printing and postage ate up most of the money raised. Groups like MoveOn, however, have found that they can raise large amounts of money from small donors at minimal cost, with credit card transaction fees constituting their biggest expense. "For the first time, you have a door into the political process that isn't marked 'big money,' " says Darr. "That changes everything.

Fundraising capability

With all this information so readily available, there is a rising trend of “slacktivism” or “clicktivism”. While it is positive that information can be distributed so quickly and efficiently all around the world, there is negativity in the fact that we often take this information for granted, or quickly forget about it once we have seen it flash across our computer screens.[39] Viral campaigns are great for sparking initial interest and conversation, but they are not as effective in the long term—people begin to think that clicking “like” on something is enough of a contribution, or that posting information about a current hot topic on their Facebook page or Twitter feed means that they have made a difference.

These social networks which occupy ICTs are in fact just modern forms of political instruments which pre-date the technological era.[39] We now go to online forums or Twitter, instead of town hall meetings. People can essentially mobilize world-wide through the Internet. Women can create transnational alliances and lobby for rights within their respective countries; they can give each other tips and share up-to-date information. This information becomes “hyper textual”, available in downloadable formats with easy access for all.[39] The UN organizations also use “hyper textual” formats. They can post information about upcoming summits, they can post newsletters on what occurred at these meetings, and links to videos can be shared; all of this information can be downloaded at the click of a button.[39] The UN and many other actors are presenting this information in an attempt to get a certain message out in the cyber sphere and consequently steer public perception on an issue.[40]

Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) do indeed make our lives easier but they are dangerous in that they can become almost mindless interactions—there are millions of Facebook accounts, Twitter users and websites. All this access is so readily available at the click of a button. You can find any information or videos you want on the Internet, and educate yourself on how to do just about anything. While this is for the most part a positive thing, it can also be dangerous. For example, you can read up on the latest news events relatively easily and quickly; however, there is danger in the fact that apathy or fatigue can quickly arise when we are inundated with so many messages, or that the loudest voice on a subject can often be the most extreme one—distorting public perception on the issue.

Information Communication Technologies and Online Activism

According to some observers, the Internet may have considerable potential to reach and engage opinion leaders who influence the thinking and behavior of others. According to the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet, what they call "Online Political Citizens" (OPCs) are "seven times more likely than average citizens to serve as opinion leaders among their friends, relatives and colleagues…Normally, 10% of Americans qualify as Influentials. Our study found that 69% of Online Political Citizens are Influentials."[38]

Impact on everyday political discussions


Religious activism

Corporate methods of information dissemination is labelled "the Coalition to Protect Patients' Rights, which opposes universal health care in the U.S.[36]

The clothing manufacturer, American Apparel is an example: The company hosts a website called Legalize LA that advocates immigration reform via blog, online advertising, links to news stories and educational materials.[31][32] Protest groups have responded by posting YouTube videos and establishing a boycott website.[33][34]

Corporations are also using Internet activist techniques to increase support for their causes. According to Christopher Palmeri with BusinessWeek Online, companies launch sites with the intent to positively influence their own public image, to provide negative pressure on competitors, to influence opinion within select groups, and to push for policy changes.[30]

Corporate activism

[29][28] The Internet has become the catalyst for protests such as

Non-traditional activism

Two-thirds of Internet users under the age of 30 have a SNS, and during the 2008 election, half of them used a SNS site for candidate information (Hirzalla, 2010).[27]

A more decentralized approach to campaigning arose, in contrast to a top-down, message-focused approach usually conducted in the mainstream. "The mantra has always been, 'Keep your message consistent. Keep your message consistent,'" said Wesley Clark. "That was all well and good in the past. Now it's a recipe for disaster … You can choose to have a Stalinist structure that's really doctrinaire and that's really opposed to grassroots. Or you can say, 'Go forth. Do what you're going to do.' As long as we're running in the same direction, it's much better to give some freedom."[1]

When discussing the Washington, D.C., said of the candidates which benefited from use of the Internet to attract supporters: "They are all charismatic, outspoken mavericks and insurgents. Given that the Internet is interactive and requires an affirmative action on the part of the users, as opposed to a passive response from TV users, it is not surprising that the candidate has to be someone people want to touch and interact with."[26]

Use in political campaigns

[The Internet's] roots in the open-source ARPAnet, its hacker culture, and its decentralized, scattered architecture make it difficult for big, establishment candidates, companies and media to gain control of it. And the establishment loathes what it can't control. This independence is by design, and the Internet community values above almost anything the distance it has from the slow, homogeneous stream of American commerce and culture. Progressive candidates and companies with forward-looking vision have an advantage on the Internet, too. Television is, by its nature, a nostalgic medium. Look at Ronald Reagan's campaign ads in the 1980s – they were masterpieces of nostalgia promising a return to America's past glory and prosperity. The Internet, on the other hand, is a forward-thinking and forward-moving medium, embracing change and pushing the envelope of technology and communication.

The Internet is "tailor-made for a populist, insurgent movement," says Joe Trippi,[25] who managed the Howard Dean campaign. In his campaign memoir, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, Trippi notes that:

The possibilities of online activism

Selected Internet activists

The campaign resulted in a resolution by the United States Senate and contributed to the decision to send troops by the African Union. The film also called for an April 20 world wide canvassing campaign, called "Cover the Night". However, in the wake of controversy regarding the project's legitimacy, as well as publicized accounts of the film's director Jason Russell's psychological instability,[16] interest in the movement largely waned. On April 5, 2012, Invisible Children released a follow-up video, titled Kony 2012: Part II – Beyond Famous, which failed to repeat the success of the original.

Kony 2012 (officially KONY 2012 or Kony2012) is a short film produced by Invisible Children, Inc. (authors of Invisible Children). It was released on March 5, 2012.[2][3][4][5] The film's purpose was to promote the charity's "Stop Kony" movement to make African cult and militia leader, indicted war criminal and the International Criminal Court fugitive Joseph Kony globally known in order to have him arrested by the end of 2012,[6] when the campaign expired. The film spread virally.[7][8][9] As of March 1, 2014, the film has received over 99 million views and 1.3 million "likes" on the video-sharing website YouTube,[10] and over 21.9 thousand "likes" on Vimeo,[11] with other views on a central "Kony 2012" website operated by Invisible Children. The intense exposure of the video caused the "Kony 2012" website to crash shortly after it began gaining widespread popularity.[12] A poll suggested that more than half of young adult Americans heard about Kony 2012 in the days following the video's release.[13][14][15] It was included among the top international events of 2012 by PBS[16] and called the most viral video ever by TIME.[17]

In the UK, in 1999, the Government introduced a new employment tax called IR35. One of the first online trade associations was created to campaign against it. Within weeks they had raised £100,000 off the Internet from individuals who had never even met. They became a fully formed trade association called the Professional Contractors Group, which two years later had 14,000 members all paying £100 each to join. They presented the first ever e-petition to Parliament and organized one of the first flash mobs when using their database, to their surprise and others, 1,000 came in their call to lobby Parliament. They later raised £500,000 from the Internet to fund an unsuccessful High Court challenge against the tax, though ultimately they secured some concessions. Their first external affairs director, Philip Ross, has written a history of the campaign.[24]

Later, a worldwide network of Internet activist sites, under the umbrella name of Indymedia, was created "for the purpose of providing grassroots coverage of the WTO protests in Seattle" in 1999.[21][22] Dorothy Kidd quotes Sheri Herndon in a July 2001 telephone interview about the role of the Internet in the anti-WTO protests: "The timing was right, there was a space, the platform was created, the Internet was being used, we could bypass the corporate media, we were using open publishing, we were using multimedia platforms. So those hadn't been available, and then there was the beginning of the anti-globalization movement in the United States."[23]

Another well-known example of early Internet activism took place in 1998, when the Geneva.[19] The PGA continued to call for "global days of action" and rally support of other anti-globalization groups in this way.[20]

The practice of cyber-dissidence and activism per se, that is, in its modern-day form, may have been inaugurated by Dr. Daniel Mengara, a Gabonese scholar and activist living in political exile in New Jersey in the United States. In 1998, he created a Website in French whose name Bongo Doit Partir (Bongo Must Go)[14] was clearly indicative of its purpose: it encouraged a revolution against the then 29-year-old regime of Omar Bongo in Gabon. The original URL,,[15] began to redirect to[16] in the year 2000. Inaugurating what was to become common current-day practice in the politically involved blogosphere, this movement's attempt at rallying the Gabonese around revolutionary ideals and actions has ultimately been vindicated by the 2011 Tunisian and Egyption revolutions, where the Internet has proven to be an effective tool for instigating successful critique, opposition, and revolution against dictators. In July 2003, Amnesty International reported the arrest of five Gabonese known-to-be members of the cyber-dissident group Bongo Doit Partir. The five members were detained for three months (See: Gabon: Prisoners of Conscience[17] and Gabon: Further information on Prisoners of conscience[18]).

In 1995–1998, Z magazine offered courses online through Left Online University, with lessons on "Using the Internet for Electronic Activism."[13]

The earliest example of mass emailing as a rudimentary form of DDoS occurred on Guy Fawkes Day 1994, when the Intervasion of the UK began email-bombing John Major's cabinet and UK parliamentary servers in protest against the Criminal Justice Bill, which outlawed outdoor rave festivals and "music with a repetitive beat"

In 1993, a survey article about online activism around the world, from Croatia to the United States, appeared in The Nation magazine, with several activists being quoted about their projects and views.[11][12]

In response, a mass e-mail and E-bulletin-board campaign was started, which included information on contacting Lotus and form letters. Larry Seiler, a New England-based computer professional, posted a message that was widely reposted on newsgroups and via e-mail: "It will contain a LOT of personal information about YOU, which anyone in the country can access by just buying the discs. It seems to me (and to a lot of other people, too) that this will be a little too much like big brother, and it seems like a good idea to get out while there is still time."Over 30,000 people contacted Lotus and asked for their names to be removed from the database. On January 23, 1991, Lotus announced that it had cancelled MarketPlace.[10]

One of the earliest known uses of the Internet as a medium for activism was that around Lotus MarketPlace. On April 10, 1990, Lotus announced a direct-mail marketing database product that was to contain name, address, and spending habit information on 120 million individual U.S. citizens. While much of the same data was already available, privacy advocates worried about the availability of this data within one database. Furthermore, the data would be on CD-ROM, and so would remain fixed until a new CD-ROM was issued.

Examples of early activism

In one study, a discussion of a developmental model of political mobilization is discussed. By citizens joining groups and creating discussion, they are beginning their first stage of involvement. Progressively, it is hoped that they will begin signing petitions online and graduating to offline contact as long as the organization provides the citizen with escalating steps of involvement (Vitak et al., 2011).[9]

Exploring the dynamics of online activism for expressing resistance to a powerful organization, a study published in Information and Organization developed a critical mass approach to online activism.[8] The results were integrated in a four-year longitudinal process model that explains how online activism started, generated societal outcomes, and changed over time. The model suggests that online activism helped organize collective actions and amplify the conditions for revolutionary movements to form. Yet, it provoked elites’ reactions such as Internet filtering and surveillance, which do not only promote self-censorship and generate digital divide, but contribute to the ultimate decline of activism over time. The process model suggests a complex interplay among stakeholders’ interests, opportunities for activism, costs and outcomes that are neither foreseen nor entirely predictable. The authors challenge universal access to the Internet as a convenient and cost-free forum for practicing social activism by organizational stakeholders (customers, employees, outside parties). In fact, the technology enablers of social activism also enable its filtering and repression and thus more extreme states of information asymmetry may result in which powerful elites preserve their status and impose a greater digital divide.

Development processes

Hashtag activism is the use of hashtags for activist purposes. Its use has been associated with the 2014 Chibok kidnapping, with hopes that it would help keep the story in the news and raise international attention.[7] The hashtag itself has received 2 million retweets.

Hashtag activism

In addition, denial-of-Service attacks, the taking over and vandalizing of a website, uploading Trojan horses, and sending out e-mail bombs (mass e-mailings) are also examples of Internet activism. For more examples of these types of "direct action", see hacktivism.[6]

Internet activists also pass on E-petitions to be sent to the government and public and private organizations to protest against and urge for positive policy change in areas from the social-networking sites, most noticeably, are also making e-activist tools available to their users. An active participatory culture is enabled by the communities on social networking sites because they permit communication between groups that are otherwise unable to communicate. In the article “Why We Argue about Virtual Community: A Case Study of the Fan Community,” Nessim Watson stresses the necessity of communication in online communities. He even goes as far as to say that “Without ongoing communication among its participants, a community dissolves”. The constant ability to communicate with members of the community enriches online community experiences and redefines the word community.[5]

The Internet is a key resource for independent activists, or E-activists, particularly those whose message may run counter to the mainstream. "Especially when a serious violation of human rights occurs, the Internet is essential in reporting the atrocity to the outside world."[4] Listservs like BurmaNet and Freedom News Group help distribute news that would otherwise be inaccessible in these countries.

Sandor Vegh divides online activism into three main categories: Awareness/advocacy, organization/mobilization, and action/reaction.[3] There are other ways of classifying types of online activism, such as by the degree of reliance on the Internet. Thus, Internet sleuthing or hacking could be viewed as purely online forms of activism, whereas the Occupy Wall Street movement was only partially online.



  • Types 1
    • Hashtag activism 1.1
  • Development processes 2
  • Examples of early activism 3
  • Selected Internet activists 4
  • The possibilities of online activism 5
    • Use in political campaigns 5.1
    • Non-traditional activism 5.2
    • Corporate activism 5.3
    • Religious activism 5.4
  • Impact on everyday political discussions 6
  • Information Communication Technologies and Online Activism 7
  • Fundraising capability 8
  • Criticism 9
    • Demographic issues 9.1
    • Real debate? 9.2
    • Moving to offline action 9.3
    • Slacktivism 9.4
    • Clicktivism 9.5
    • State repression 9.6
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • Further reading 12

are using social media to achieve digital activism objectives. [2] and Canada[1]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.